Why Bother Voting for President?

There is a fundamental difference between the worth of an election and voting. People make this mistake all the time, most notably with some version of the phrase, “This presidential election is really important, so make sure you get out and vote because every vote matters.” This is the wrong way to look at it. Elections are indeed very important, or at least have the potential to be, but an individual’s vote in that election is staggeringly inconsequential.

The electoral college only furthers the pointlessness of voting for president, since certain states (Ohio) may ultimately play a larger role in deciding the election than others (North Dakota), which does indeed shake the odds that an individual’s vote will matter, but also further illustrates the pointlessness of casting a ballot. Taken as a percentage of the whole, a single vote for president is somewhere in the 1 in a 115 million range of deciding the election. In a particular state, however, that number might potentially decrease to perhaps 1 in 12 million. Better odds, to be sure, but one might as well go out and buy a lottery ticket for all the good their vote will do.

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I Miss Baseball Already

I caught New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of President Obama today. Two things in particular stood out. First:

“Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

It’s not that I look the other way on sensible environmental policy, I’m not China after all, but I also have a healthy respect for rational thinking. Public policy should not be enacted to combat thing (A) because of thing (B) that may or may not be the result of (A). Bloomberg’s argument is kindergarten stuff. It’s a bit like the school that serves chicken in the cafeteria, half the kids get food poisoning three days later, and the PTA decides to endorse the incumbent superintendent of education because he will work harder than his opponent to stamp out protein in school lunches.
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